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Hartford Latin King leader gets 16 years in prison for gunfight, drug charges

Hartford Courant logo Hartford Courant 7/8/2020 By Edmund H. Mahony, Hartford Courant

A drug dealer and gang leader who ignited a wild gun fight on Franklin Avenue in Hartford that sent three men to the hospital, was sentenced to 16 years in prison Wednesday in federal court.

Wilson “Wiso” Velez, 35, ran the Latin King chapter in Hartford and was the second highest-ranking Latin King in Connecticut as the organization’s regional officer in the state. He had been convicted of a variety drug and gun crimes and of directing a long-running criminal conspiracy.

Hartford detectives and FBI agents used a battery of informers to buy guns and what federal prosecutors called “large quantities of heroin and fentanyl” from Wilson, principally at an apartment complex at 8-10 Hamilton Street and in the area of 22 Elliott Street, both in Hartford.

He lived with his wife and three children in Newington and operated a clothing store on Franklin Avenue and a construction business, J&W Fixtures.

Federal prosecutors said Velez started the gun fight in April 2017 when he and four other Latin Kings decided to chase away two drug dealers who were trying to set themselves up in business on turf Wilson claimed near Franklin Avenue and Barker Street.

The two resisted and what began as an exchange of blows escalated into a running gun battle, prosecutors said. The two rivals were shot in the legs and the man described by prosecutors as Velez’s main “enforcer” – Miguel “Mega” Claudio – was hit multiple times. Claudio survived after being hospitalized in a coma for months.

Velez was arrested about six months later, but was released on bond after renouncing the Latin Kings. Prosecutors said he slipped back into his role as gang leader and drug dealer upon release and was rearrested not long afterward.


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